Roots of the Classical: The Popular Origins of Western Music

By Peter Van Der Merwe | Go to book overview

9 The Evolution of Tonality

TOWARDS THE BAROQUE

Not so very long ago, Western music was seen as triumphant march from the primitive to the sophisticated. 'Old' modes gave way to 'new' keys, which in turn progressed from the simplicities of Monteverdi to the complexities of Wagner. To the great project of tonality, every major composer contributed his bit.

In fact, there never was such a project. Tonality was not deliberately constructed but just grew, like the giraffe's neck or the human brain, in response to an impersonal evolutionary force. There were, to be sure, periods when composers pursued a common ideal: ease and elegance in the eighteenth century, expressive power in the nineteenth. But their efforts were fitful and uncoordinated, and the results unpredictable. In any case, such ideals were simply the musical expression of the prevailing taste. They could hardly be expected to fit in with long-term tendencies unique to music.

Through every vagary of fashion, the tendency was towards a style of harmony both formally predominant and acoustically simple. It is the simplicity that strikes us in early tonality. There was very little in this unpretentious music to attract the ambitious composer. Its only evident merit was a certain rough vigour, perhaps combined, to the sixteenth-century ear, with an endearing folkiness. The enormous capacity for hierarchic organization had yet to be revealed. And here it should be remarked that harmonic hierarchy, in itself, was far from new to Western music. Primitive key relationships had already begun to appear in mid-fifteenthcentury polyphony,1 but the nearest that early sixteenth-century dance music came to them was the occasional II7/♯–V or I7\<–IV progression. It was only when the cadential hierarchies of the polyphonic style were combined with the harmonic simplicity of popular music that mature key systems became possible.

The merging of these very different traditions was a long and convoluted process. On the one hand, the great masters were loath to relinquish the subtleties of modal harmony; on the other, it took popular composers almost a century to develop even

1 Cf. Binchois's 'Adieu m'amour' (Ex. 6.1 on p. 67).

-116-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Roots of the Classical: The Popular Origins of Western Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • A Note on Terminology and Notation xii
  • A Note on the Musical Examples xvi
  • Abbreviations xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - The Melodic Foundations 5
  • 1: The Subtle Mathematics of Music 7
  • 2: The Ramellian Paradigm 19
  • 3: The Children's Chant 27
  • 4: The Pentatonic Scale 38
  • Part Two - The Harmonic Revolution 51
  • 5: Primitive Harmony 53
  • 6: The Discovery of Tonality 66
  • 7: Rivals to Tonality 86
  • 8: Dissonance and Discord 106
  • 9: The Evolution of Tonality 116
  • Part Three - The Melodic Counter-Revolution 129
  • 10: The Rude, the Vulgar, and the Polite 131
  • 11: The Debt to the East 144
  • 12: The Dances of Central Europe 231
  • 13: The Nineteenth–century Vernacular 271
  • 14: Romanticism 339
  • 15: Modernism 376
  • 16: The Popular Style 426
  • Epilogue 461
  • List of Musical Examples 467
  • Glossary 485
  • Bibliography 502
  • Index 515
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 562

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.